In 2016, Donald Trump not only had to stalk, berate and bullshit Hillary Clinton out of the presidential race, he also had to take on Vermin Love Supreme. An independent candidate, Vermin was a white-bearded “friendly fascist” best known for wearing a large rubber boot as a hat and carrying around a gigantic toothbrush. His banner policies included funding research into time travel so that he could go back to the 1930s and kill Hitler, free ponies for all and, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, harnessing the ceaseless staggering of the undead to provide us with an unlimited energy source.
Such common-sense politics are likely to be absent from the 2020 Presidential race. Instead, despite The Rock’s proposed candidacy failing to materialise, Trump’s up against an even weirder proposition. After much speculation, Kanye West has announced he’s running for America’s top job, although it’s uncertain as yet whether he’s aware that there’s more paperwork required than simply announcing it on Twitter and turning up for his inauguration.
Kayne’s announcement might sound like a lark, or something you and your mates made up eighteen hours into Super Spreader Saturday, but the consequences might be serious indeed. Kanye has famously supported Trump, making him complicit in the President’s efforts to suppress and disenfranchise black voters, stifle the BLM movement, demonise minorities, legitimise dictators and destroy women’s rights. Now his Presidential bid, by swaying even a small amount of liberal and minority voters away from Biden, might well serve to aid Trump’s re-election chances. You might even wonder if the whole idea for the West 2020 campaign came from POTUS sliding into his DMs to stroke his permanently priapic ego.
We only have to look back to 2000 to see Ralph Nader’s independent Green Party taking just three per cent of the vote, but thereby ensuring George W Bush ‘beat’ the far more environmentally-aware Democratic nominee, Al Gore. In 2020, with 17 million largely inner-city voters already purged from voting rolls, a similar Democrat swing towards Kanyenomics might be enough to push even a beleaguered Trump over the line again. Just as short-sighted UK remainers conned into voting Lib Dem in 2019 were actually voting for a no deal Brexit, Americans backing Kanye in hope of a strong black voice in the White House pushing forward the new civil rights agenda might well find they’ve voted, indirectly, for white supremacy.
Because, realistically, there’s zero chance of Kanye making President. Yes he has a formidable, cult-like youth following, but outside of the two-party machine – with its millions of bumper-sticker faithful, its billionaire donors and its huge campaign programmes – the 264,000 Americans who effectively streamed ‘Jesus Is King’ to Number One aren’t exactly going to be kingmakers. Sorry, Jesus.
Still, “there’s theories that there’s infinite amounts of universes” as Kanye digressed during his notorious meeting with Trump in 2018, immediately baffling a President who can barely comprehend a cosmos beyond Mar-a-Lago’s eighteenth hole. And in one of those universes perhaps we didn’t cock up democracy so badly and Kanye West might stand a bat in Wuhan’s chance of becoming President. So let’s dare to dream of a western world ruled by YEOTUS. What sort of President would he be?
Hands on, for a start. With his history in fashion and design and his enthusiasm for cutting-edge visual stagecraft, he’s likely to want to micro-manage a new American aesthetic as soon as he hits the Oval Office – or, as it will swiftly be remodelled, the Neon Cube Office. We’ve already heard about his plans to replace Air Force One with his own vision of a hydrogen-powered iPlane One, and that undoubtedly wouldn’t be the end of Kanye’s tinkering with iconic American power symbols. Before you know it the stars on the flag would be replaced by glistening Kardashian buttocks, The Beast would be a convertible and the MAGA hats that he claimed made him feel like Superman would come with an actual detachable cape. “If he don’t look good, we don’t look good,” he told reporters during his Trump summit, so expect a significant proportion of US defence spending to be rerouted to the First Couple’s sneaker budget.
Considering his tireless studio work ethic – he’d often sleep in the studio when making albums, working arounds the clock – we could expect him to be far more on-the-ball that the current POTUS, who reportedly needs to have his own name inserted randomly into important briefings in order to keep him awake. But when it comes to policies he might quickly learn that, in practice, his worldview is largely at odds with itself, as coherent as a Boris Johnson lockdown guideline.
At his meeting with Trump, in amongst his “from the soul” ramblings about metaphysical trapdoors and time being a myth, Kanye made snippets of sense. He spoke passionately and astutely about racial issues in “Chiraq” – Chicago’s rocketing murder rate, stop and frisk policies and police racism. He advocated abolishing the 13th amendment, which allows for the use of forced manufacturing labour in prisons, turning the US prison system into “the cheapest factory on the planet” thanks to what some critics equate to a modern-day form of slavery. He also advocated the introduction of grassroots community leaders, which would chime with the aims of BLM. Combined with his numerous onstage rants about being denied the opportunities he deserves (usually to design expensive shoes or win Grammys), this suggests that President Kanye would put advancements in civil rights at the heart of the US statute book.
But before we organise the ticker-tape parade, his overall economic vision would likely set marginalised communities and the minority struggle back decades. He talked about the “Kanye Effect” turning America into a self-sustained GDP powerhouse by “empowering pharmaceuticals [and] industries”, as if extortionate drug and health care costs, combined with the profit-driven exploitations of big business, aren’t causes of the poverty at the root of so many of America’s racial problems. “I’ve never stepped into a situation where I didn’t make people more money,” he boasted, lumping essential services into the same Amazon basket as his limited edition Yeezys without a care for who has to pay.
His education policy, meanwhile, would be a shambles. He proposed mixed curriculum “Yeezy-Ideation Centres”, where you’d “play basketball while you’re doing math” like that wasn’t the maddest idea on earth. Picture an America of 2024, where every child can tap-dance pi to 37 decimal places and sing the periodic table to the tune of ‘Greased Lightning’, the country’s crippling multi-tasking problem solved forever. Frankly, zombie turbine farms are a more sensible idea.
Kanye’s recent conversion to religious zealotry shouldn’t be ignored either. Historically, ultra-religious leaders don’t have the best humanitarian record (ask any dunked witch) and relying on God to get you through a crisis has never worked out great for anyone. I mean, He made Covid-19 more recently than mankind, so He clearly thinks it’s a better organism, why would He save Americans from it?
But his unequivocal support of Trump alone should be warning enough to question Kanye’s suitability for high office. “When I talk about the idea of being president,” he has said, “I’m not saying I have any political views. I just have a view on humanity, on people, on the truth.” Sounds vaguely noble, but by hugging Trump and squealing “I love this guy!” he proved, terrifyingly, that his views on humanity and truth are built upon conveniently ignoring a plethora of inhumanities and untruths. Still, at least the press conferences, though they will last for days, will make more sense. Marginally.